Half a degree - why I don't regret quitting university

Two years ago, I faced a choice that I was unsure to make. I had six months before I would know what the next step was for TH and I - whether he would be coming back to England, or whether I would be joining him here in a Chicago.

That wasn't the choice I had to make though. I had made it through college, and finally held some qualifications that could take me further. Those qualifications pointed directly towards university. I had previously applied Southampton Solent a University, as soon as I found they ran a course in the very subject area that I was interested in: publishing.

I must be rare though, because the university withdrew the course, and - with no time at all to really think over my options - I applied for a place on an alternative course - Magazine Journalism and Feature Writing. Chosen on the basis of onward career options - this course seemed the best fit to provide me what I needed to enter the publishing world.

I had to attend an interview, and didn't expect to be offered a place - but I was. As long as I met the criteria with my A level results, I would have a place. The reality of actually going to university didn't really sink in until I received my results. I had got in, but now I had to decide whether to go or not.

In the end, I decided to go for it. I was quite sure I wouldn't end up living in America, and that TH would come home. At the time I felt like it was the opportunity of a lifetime - the chance to actually really make something of myself. He had already had his, and was on his adventure. I couldn't turn the chance I had been given down for fear of regretting it if I did.

So off to uni I went, and I hated it. Being in your late twenties with masses of eighteen year olds isn't fun. They didn't like me because - well I don't know... I was older? I seemed like a swot because I chatted to the lecturers with a decent level of respect? Didn't act like a brat? Didn't complain (not outwardly anyway)? Didn't wear ridiculously weird outfits? Turned up on time because I wasn't hungover but HAD been up all night the night before with a toddler?

Basically, because I wasn't one of them. Our course was predominantly female. 60 students - all wanting to share their views, and believing they were each right. It was painful - the huge level of entitlement I was surrounded by. Although that developed over time.

Come our second year, students were crying out: "Why do we pay for this shit?" "I don't know what we're meant to be doing!" Our course staff had mostly changed, and there was an outcry. There was a conspiracy theory that there had been some arguments among the staff with management -leading to changes.

My fellow students didn't like the changes, and so behaved appallingly. They hated our new course leader - and bitched about her so much she stepped down. They kept asking if our old lecturers could come back. They were so naive. They never considered that maybe - just maybe - the lecturers had left for better opportunities. This was the journalism world after all - ever changing and evolving.

I still didn't get along with many of the students. It's not so much that I wouldn't have spoken to them, but they made no effort to talk to me, only about me behind my back. Of course I had one or two friends - each of whom said it was more like school - the amount of bitching that went on.

I got on with my work, and that hard work paid off and I did well. It would be a pity to have to delay my third year, as TH and I had by now decided I would join him - and finish university when we returned to the UK. I won't be returning to study.

In January this year, I had enough. The workload was fine, but we had to work in groups. I didn't want to work with these people, and wouldn't be forced to. I had so much going on worrying about how Mini Man was being treated at school, and worrying about the things in my life that actually mattered. My education took a back seat, and I didn't have time for these shallow people anymore. I got so sick with stress, that the doctor told me to take time off. A lecturer who barely knew me encouraged me to keep going into classes and work through it.

She was worried I would regret it if I quit, so I carried on - even though I should have been taking a break. Then one day I sat through a lecture while somebody kept kicking my back and I realised that was it.

I had it. With the bitchy "fuss me with attention" girls. With students complaining their grades were bad when it couldn't possibly have been anything to do with the amount of time spent with a vodka, rather than a pen in their hand. With other adults telling me what I should do. With everything about studying. I wanted to be a proofreader... All I needed was my eyes, and a red pen.

So I quit. I emailed my lecturers, telling them I was suspending, with a view to withdrawing from the course completely in summer.

Today, the one real friend I made at uni registered for her third and final year of study. This time next year she will be graduating, and I feel proud for her. I also feel proud of myself for deciding my own path, and taking ownership of my problems. University wasn't for me, and I don't regret quitting for one moment, so while she was registering - I sent my confirmation that I would not be returning to study. Ever.

I like the adventure I am on now. Having the time to spend with my family, and do the things that matter. I might have given up a career to be a stay at home mum, but that is nothing compared with what I was giving up to be a writer. If you write, you're a writer.

I might have half a degree, but I have the freedom to write what, and when I want. Right now, I'm writing a new adventure in Chicago, with my family where I belong.

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Filed under: History

Tags: life choices, Studying, university

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